It's National Hairball Awareness Day - really!

IMG_2250Some of you may already know how I celebrated it this year - by making Lady Gaga out of cat fur (and a wee bit of doggeh fluff too). It's been quite a hit on Fuze amazingly enough!!!

But seriously, it's that time of year when cats shed like crazy and when they groom themselves, they can swallow a significant amount of fur; hence the oh-so-delightufl hairballs.

There are two ways to deal with hairballs - by feeding cats "hairball formula" food to deal with the fur once it's ingested or prevent them in the first place by grooming your cat frequently. You could also shave your cat but that would be rather undignified for all involved. 

If you want to see some of the other hairball creations, just hop on over to Furminator's Facebook page for the "fur creature" celebrity themed contest. There's bound to be someone that tickles your fancy over there.

IMG_2246 IMG_2246 IMG_2246 IMG_2246


Guest Post: dog and cat wellness questions with Dr Patrick Mahaney

It's Pet Wellness Month at Embrace so we asked the Embrace Facebook fans what they would Dr Patrick Mahaney to answer and here are the questions we selected to discuss:

  1. Sara: Do flea/tick and heartworm preventatives really have to be given every month? It seems like they might last longer but companies would still recommend them for every month to sell
    more product.
  2. Andrea: Why do I have to test my dog every year for heartworms if I give her her heartworm preventive all year?
  3. Amy: Shortage of Interceptor/Sentinel for herding breeds at risk of MDR1 gene mutation...this is my concern.
  4. Laura: Would it be a good idea to have my vet test my cat's blood every wellness visit just in case? If so, what would they test?
  5. Lea: how to pick a vet that’s right for you? Anything you’d specifically recommend apart from location?

The answers are all in the recording below:

Laura Bennett & Dr Patrick Mahaney Wellness Q&Amp;A

Other posts by Dr Patrick Mahaney

Dr Patrick Mahaney Dr. Mahaney is a veterinarian from the University of Pennsylvania and a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, having been inspired by his own chronic pain
from Intervertebral Disc Disease to provide accupuncture to his veterinary clients. In addition to Dr Mahaney's house call integrative
veterinary medicine business, California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness, he sees patients on an in-clinic basis at Veterinary Cancer Group in Culver City, CA.

Dr Mahaney writes a veterinary column (Patrick's Blog) for and contributes to a variety of media, including Perez Hilton's, Fido Friendly, Veterinary Practice News, Healthy Pets and People with Dr Patrick on, and MSNBC Sunday with Alex Witt and Career Day. His first book, The Uncomfortable Vet, will be available in 2012 through Havenhurst Books.


When you aren't sure if you need to go to the veterinary emergency room or not

Have you ever had that late night sudden discovery of some concerning pet medical issue and you wished you could ask a vet to let you know if you needed to make that late night visit to the emerg room? I had one of those a couple of weeks ago and had a great experience with VetLive, our partner for round-the-clock veterinary advice. 

Here's what happened.

Our outdoor cat, Lily, showed up at the house with a smear on her neck. I didn't think much of it as she'd recently come home covered in mud for some unknown reason (I know, she's a strange cat). The next day though, I did take a closer look and saw she'd actually cut her neck somehow. I gave the wound a wipe with a wet paper towel  to see how it looked and there was no hissing, no upset cat, only a little blood and it didn't look like an animal bite. All good so I thought.

The next evening though, John brought her over to me at 8:00pm and thought the wound looked pretty bad so I finally took a good look at it and agreed it was much more serious than I had thought. It was quite deep but it didn't seem infected and Lily wasn't bothered by it; however, it really did seem like something a vet should look at sooner than later.

What to do? Spend the money to go to an emergency vet in case or wait until the morning? 

That's when I thought I'd enlist the help of VetLive, a service we offer to our Embraced pet parents at Embrace's expense, to ask them what they thought. The service is all done through a chat feature and is a very nifty tool that gave me great peace of mind.

Here's the transcript of my conversation with Dr Laci Schaible with the pictures I sent along.

Me: My cat Lily has a puncture wound on her neck that I'm quite concerned about. I saw it this morning and washed it with water and put on some anti-bacterial cream (for humans) and she seemed fine with that - it didn't seem to hurt her when I did any of that. However, I looked at it more closely tonight and see it's deeper than I thought and not going to heal on its own. I know I need to take her to the vet but should I go tonight or is it OK to go tomorrow morning. She is not pawing at it or anything that I have seen. She is hungry and seems her normal self. What do you think?

IMG_2279VetLive: Hi Laura, Can you send me a picture? If you need to send more than one it is easier to email them to Was it neosporin or something equivalent that you applied? Thanks, Dr Laci Schaible

Me: here's a photo. I put on Bactroban cream (mupirocin calcium cream 2%)

VetLive: Thanks for the pics. Based on these pics, this should be okay to wait until tomorrow morning. It does look fairly nasty. If you can, try and trim the surrounded hairs but if she gets feisty or if you don't have "full" control over her, then don't bother. The most important thing is to wash it really well--soap and water will do if you don't have a disinfectant at home (peroxide or chlorhexidine would work great also).

If you have a rectal thermometer at home, this would be ideal. Her temperature should be around 102 F. Ear ones aren't very reliable but are better than nothing. If her temperature is 104 or higher, this warrants a middle of the night trip. I highly doubt she has would have a fever this high to be acting normally, eating, active, etc. Don't forget to lube it with KY, vaseline, or mineral oil. This is usually a two person job, FYI.

If you have a vet that you feel confident will have you seen early in the am, I would pull her food at midnight and separate her tonight from the other cat (I believe you mentioned you had two when we visited). Just leave a small amount of water in the dish so she can moisten her mouth. I can't tell if this is a bite wound or a puncture wound, but most cat wounds do have to be explored. This must be done under heavy sedation at the least. Many will have an unexpected tract, and end up requiring a sterile tube to be placed to allow the injury to drain. Hopefully this is not the case but it is quite possible.

The antibiotic cream won't help --or hurt much, as she will definitely need oral antibiotics to help heal this wound. Keeping it clean is more important. If she will let you, you can clean it every four hours. It is okay to apply the cream as well, just make sure you are able to wipe it off thoroughly when you clean. If she won't tolerate this, then I would forgo the cream altogether as you don't want to create a sort of film that keeps oxygen from permeating the wound in case it is a cat bite wound and there are anaerobic bacteria from other kitty's teeth.

Best of luck to Lily. Regards, Laci

Me: I will keep an eye on her and make sure we get Lily into our vet first thing. The other cats sleep in the basement so Lily can have the royal treatment tonight :) Don't have an anal thermometer or an ear one. Would an oral one do (to be replaced tomorrow!) or would it give a false reading?

VetLive: Oral would would just as well, just make sure to still use it rectally of course. I will bump you a link on how to take a cat's temperature rectally.

By the way, even if you went to an emergency hospital right now, she wouldn't get surgery any sooner as they would have to wait for her to have an empty stomach. Plus, you get to have your regular vet this which is always nice. Best wishes again.

Me: Thanks so much! I just cleaned her wound with peroxide and she was fine with that so I'm thinking this is much better. We'll get her in to our vet tomorrow am and she'll be in good hands. Night night!

IMG_2291 After that, I felt much better about Lily overnight and my vet saw her first thing in the morning. In the end, Lily just had a shave and clean up around the puncture wound and an antibiotic injection, totalling $81.50. Certainly much better than an unnecessary visit to the emergency room.  

Here's Lily yesterday (to the left), rolling around outside, her usual happy and agile self (even with a paralized tail).

And here she is entertaining the kittens with a mouse (warning, cute except she eats mouse at the end - if that sort of thing grosses you out.) 

Related Posts:
April is Wellness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: annual vet visits are more than vaccinations
The Best Wellness Product in Pet Insurance
When you aren't sure if you need to go to the veterinary emergency room or not

The Best Wellness Product in Pet Insurance

Usually I would say that "best" is in the eye of the beholder since what might be best for me might not be best for you. In the case of wellness with pet insurance though, it's hard to think of a situation where the Embrace Pet Insurance Wellness Rewards option isn't the best for everyone.

The Embrace Wellness Rewards works quite like a Health Spending Account and can save you a lot of money:

  • you pick one of the two Wellness Rewards options with your Embrace Pet Insurance policy - $200 or $400 limit
  • you can use the Wellness Rewards benefit the day you buy it - no waiting for the coverage to start the next day. That means you can buy it after your spay or neuter surgery and still have it covered if you buy the same day 
  • spend your Wellness dollars on wellness related care such as:
    • spay or neuter
    • flea or tick medication
    • routine vet visits and diagnostics
    • prescription diet foods (at the $400 Wellness Rewards Plus level)
    • and more
  • send in your claim form with your invoice and we'll reimburse you what you spent up to your annual limit
  • Best news of all? You do not have to pay a deductible and there's no copay percentage 

How do you save money? Well, the Wellness Rewards program costs less than the benefit you can get. And because we have no sublimits on each item and we pay you back exactly what you paid on your vet bill up to your limit, it's easy to max out your savings.

Wellness Rewards benefits

Any questions?

Related Posts:
April is Wellness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: annual vet visits are more than vaccinations
The Best Wellness Product in Pet Insurance
When you aren't sure if you need to go to the veterinary emergency room or not

Lady Gaga hairballed

Mama elephant holding babyLast year, we participated in Furminator's National Hairball Awareness Day by creating a Mama Elephant and Baby out of cat fur. It was pretty cute if I do say so myself.

This year, we're doing it again and there's a celebrity theme just to make it more interesting. My girls and I chose Lady Gaga as the celeb we would attempt to get a likeness of.

We're big fans of Lady Gaga in many ways so we thought her iconic look would be somewhat possible - even with pet fur!

Here is the result - what do you think?

  • IMG_2274
  • IMG_2247
  • IMG_2250
  • IMG_2266


Here's the link to the PeoplePets gallery Hack It Up - Stars Get Hairballed for more examples of how celebs can really look good in fur :)


Get an Embrace Pet Insurance Quote